As one of the fastest-growing genres in modern media, true crime has taken over Netflix. New documentaries are added to the site frequently, giving viewers a glimpse into the world’s most infamous crimes and the opportunity to develop their own theories. While there are a multitude of true crime documentaries worth binging on Netflix, here are five of the most captivating to get viewers started.
“Making a Murderer” (2015 - Present)
Arguably one of the first true crime documentaries to spark a worldwide phenomenon, this series tells the story of Steven Avery, who was released in 2003 after serving 18 years in prison. He was wrongfully convicted of Penny Beerntsen’s sexual assault and attempted murder, only to be arrested again and convicted for the murder of Teresa Halbach. It examines the evidence and events leading up to his conviction, in addition to swirling theories as to whether he’s guilty. The series wrapped up its second season in 2018 but is ongoing, as Avery recently won the right to an appeal of his case in February.
“I Am a Killer” (2018)
This documentary follows 10 death row inmates convicted of capital murder. The criminals give a firsthand account of their crimes and reveal their motivations and feelings toward their actions after spending time reflecting on death row. Some show remorse, whereas others remain indifferent about their gruesome crimes. Featuring testimonies by inmates, family members and prison guards, each episode gives a chilling glimpse into the mind of a killer and the psychotic rationalizations they used to justify crimes of such high magnitude.
“The Fear of 13” (2015)
After 20 years on death row for a crime he says he didn’t commit, convicted murderer Nick Yarris speaks in a one-man show, narrating his life on death row and the events leading up to his conviction. The title pertains to “triskaidekaphobia,” or fear of the number 13 — one of the many words he taught himself to pass the time. Yarris’ powerful storytelling and the narrative’s twists and turns leave the viewer questioning his conviction until the final minutes of the film when all is revealed. Though his story is difficult to believe, the film’s disclaimer reaffirms Yarris’ statements are all true.
“Evil Genius” (2018)
This series first begins with the story of a robbery gone wrong, in which a pizza delivery driver attempted to rob a bank with a bomb around his neck. Police believed the bomb to be fake, but when it exploded on national television, authorities set out to find the person responsible for his death, eventually arresting Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong. Upon further investigation, there appeared to be a deeper plot involving a scavenger hunt and a homemade explosive device. This documentary delves into strange conspiracies, such as Diehl-Armstrong forcing the driver to commit the crime and other twists to the case that no one expected.
“Casting JonBenet” (2017)
Unlike other true crime documentaries, which are often segmented into episodes, JonBenét Ramsey’s story is portrayed in the form of a movie by actors from her hometown of Boulder, Colorado. Over a 15-month period, re-enactments, reflections and theories from the citizens of Boulder were compiled to highlight the numerous conspiracies and biases of the infamous kidnapping and murder case. The film varies from other crime documentaries in that it doesn’t completely portray the tragedy of the story or the ongoing investigation. Instead, it highlights the aftermath of the horrific incident within Ramsey’s community and the subsequent conversations widely unknown to the public.
Contact Amy Needham at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.